Youth Futures

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    British Academy
    United Kingdom
    Social sciences
    Recognised Researcher (R2) (PhD holders or equivalent who are not yet fully independent)
    Established Researcher (R3) (Researchers who have developed a level of independence)
    Leading Researcher (R4) (Researchers leading their research area or field)



Around half of all young people in the world are unemployed or underemployed, and this situation is likely to get worse. The World Bank estimates that 1 billion young people will enter the labour market in the next 10 years, with only 400 million of them likely to find jobs in the formal economy. The potential demographic dividend of boosted economic growth from the growing youth population remains high, yet the way to achieve it is unclear, because of contextual specificities, young people’s own desires and policy deficits. Nine tenths of today’s 1.8 billion young people live in developing countries, experiencing precarious forms of livelihood associated with low pay and few worker rights, especially among women and those with low educational attainment. This reality of getting by through various ways of working, involving self-initiative and paid work, requires better understanding in order to formulate policy directions beyond the traditional binaries of supply and demand, formal and informal, self-employment, employment and unemployment, and paid and unpaid work.

This programme aims to support research which demonstrates an interdisciplinary approach yielding new conceptual understanding, developing ground-breaking research and energising innovative collaborations in the humanities and social sciences related to one or more of the three sub-themes below:

  1. Creativity: Understanding youth creativity and flexibility to identify imaginative solutions in developing countries that are effective and foster a sense of ownership by young people. The scope can be wide, but could include attention to how to amplify the voice of young people locally, nationally and globally; how to foster intergenerational and institutional trust; how to develop new approaches to the green and low waste economy at a local level; the pathways that young people take and how policies affect them including the gap between policy, communities of interest, collective action and practice; how young people experience, and have experienced, change; or how to identify imaginative solutions to mitigate climate change.
  2. Categories: The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states that people who are vulnerable, such as young people, must be empowered. Youth populations experience a combination of lack of economic opportunities (especially when combined with educational attainment, and concomitant expectations), lack of political voice and a sense of relative deprivation. The Academy would like to support projects that bring young people into the process of determining and setting the categorisations and concepts by which they view themselves and others, and how these foster their motivations, actions and aspirations. For example, this could include reconceptualising terms such as informality, inequality, mobility, resilience, identity, class, vulnerability and precarity from a youth perspective.
  3. Livelihood & Work: The meanings and manifestations of livelihood and work for and by young people in different settings on the ground are critical for our understanding of young people’s ambitions and expectations. The Academy is keen to encourage applications that focus on the practices and narratives of youth livelihoods and work (including unpaid domestic work) and provide a voice for young people to express their own perspectives. The changing attitudes of young people towards livelihood and work, particularly in our changing environment, are vital for illustrating how young people are and will live their lives and how society as a whole can be developed to support and integrate effectively the next generation.

Eligibility requirements

Principal Investigators must be based in the UK, however, equitable international collaboration is strongly expected to be detailed in any application. We particularly encourage collaboration with institutions and partners in the Global South, and expect to see applications demonstrate fully how researchers from the Global South will be involved as equal partners in the research proposed.

The Principal Investigator and any Co-Applicants must be of postdoctoral or above status (or have equivalent research experience) and hold an established role that will last at least the duration of the grant funded by the British Academy.

ODA requirements

This programme will only fund projects which are ODA-eligible. Only research that has a primary objective which is directly and primarily relevant to the problems of developing countries may be counted as ODA. ODA eligibility is an essential criterion – projects will only be deemed eligible for funding if they can demonstrate that they satisfy ODA eligibility criteria. The British Academy, with the other Global Challenges Research Fund delivery partners, has made an additional ODA guidance document available to applicants.

Only proposals which aim to support the economic development and welfare of countries on the OECD DAC list will be supported under this call.

Value and duration

Projects must be 21 months in duration, with a maximum value of £300,000 (offered at 100% FEC).

All projects must start on 20 March 2020.

Application process

Applications must be submitted online using the British Academy's Grant Management System (GMS), Flexi-Grant®.

The deadline for submissions and UK institutional approval is 4 December 2019 at 17.00 (UK time).

For more details about the programme and the eligibility requirements, please see the scheme notes.


Youth Futures Scheme Notes (384.8 KB)

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